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Brexit - A Very Personal Perspective

9-6-2016

As one of the original five founder members of IPG started over a quarter of a century ago my vision was that of a worldwide association of lawyers, accountants and tax consultants and happily this is well on the way to being achieved. The aim was worldwide not merely European.

I am one of those old enough to have voted in the original in or out referendum in the mid-seventies when the European Economic Community (EEC) was being sold to us as an economic union so I voted to join.

I was born in the UK shortly after the end of the second World War to Polish '"refugee" parents - not economic migrants. In 1940 my parents along with many others were forcibly removed by the Russians from what was then the East of Poland (now Belarus) and taken in railway cattle wagons to forced labour camps in Siberia. When Hitler invaded Russia the Polish prisoners were released and told to find their own way to wherever they wished to go. Mercifully, thanks to a Polish general in exile (General Anders) who set about forming a new Polish army in exile and assisted Polish prisoners to make their way south my parents ended up in Iran (then Persia)  where the Shah, as an ally of the British gave them sanctuary. Of course many hundreds of thousands died before finding any sanctuary - my parents were one of the lucky ones and both joined the second Polish Army Corps to which the British gave excellent military training. 

After all they had been through these army volunteers set about assisting the allies in their war against Germany and fought in the Italian campaign including in the famous battle of Monte Cassino to help liberate Italy in 1945. During the battle of Monte Cassino news started to come through that at the Yalta conference it had been agreed that the borders of Poland were to be shifted west in order to appease Stalin so the members of the Polish Second Corps had lost their homes. Shortly after in Churchill's famous words the Iron Curtain came down dividing East Europe from the West. For those readers who are interested in learning more about these times and what happened in the east of Poland I can recommend an illustrated book called "Trail of Hope by Norman Davies".

By this time you will be wondering what the above has to do with how I will vote in the 23rd June EU Referendum. Well it has everything to do with it as I grew up with the pain of my parents having lost their country and this has been likened by some as akin to the pain of losing a child. 

Way back I never voted for the UK to become a vassal state of Europe governed by Brussels. The loss of sovereignty (nothing to do with the Queen as Daniel Finkelstein sadly pointed out during our conference) by a country is the first step to loss of identity - that in my book is very sad indeed. Those of you who know the history of Europe will be aware that Poland over the ages was reduced by military force from the largest country in Europe to a tiny area around Warsaw called by the then powerful states of Prussia, Austria and Hungary "The Warsaw Gouvernance". Happily aftter the end of the First World War under the Treaty of Versailles Poland regained part of its former borders and became a sovereign state again - that is sadly until the Iron Curtain came down which lasted until the Berlin wall was pulled down. I am not likening Poland's bloody history to what may become of the UK by stealth if it remains in what may eventually become the United States of Europe but why do our political leaders, hungry for ever more power, never learn the lessons of history?

I say the EU "may" become the US of Europe because I am not at all certain it will survive long enough to do so in its present form and I expect if the UK leaves it will only hasten the demise of this latest empire building folly.  Why so? - because it is not built on solid foundations, neither economic nor social. It would be politically unsafe to ask the French or German people whether or not they wanted a closer union but the result would probably be a resounding "non" and "nein". As for Italy, Spain and Greece with their huge unemployment levels and struggling economies for how long are the German (not to mention British) people going to be prepared to bail them out financially?

There remains one final area on which I would like to comment. Why is it that our political leaders were so keen to devolve power to Scotland, Wales and N Ireland which seems to me a first step to them becoming independent of England whilst being so keen to cede independence to Brussels? I will leave it to my readers to answer that question for themselves but is it not ironic that the English cannot vote on non-English matters debated in the devolved assemblies whilst the same rules do not apply to purely English matters debated in Parliament. Sadly, whilst I will be voting to leave the EU the likelihood is the Scots who are mostly for staying will probably marginally swing the vote their way - quelle domage!

Zig Wilamowski  - Hamels Consultants LLP - UK firm